In the summer of 2015 we ran into Billy Rohan, infamous in the New York skate scene, outside of Labor Skateshop where he said he’d been “working with Donald Trump,” who was just your basic billionaire business mogul at the time. He even pulled out a pen emblazoned with Trump’s name as “proof.” We weren’t sure whether to take him seriously or not, so we just laughed it off and sort of forgot all about it.
But yesterday afternoon, when a friend sent us a link to this Politico article saying Billy Rohan had met with President-Elect Trump (still weird typing that…) at Trump Tower, things got real. Had Rohan been working for the Trump campaign all this time? Was he going to be appointed America’s first Secretary of Skateparks? We just had to call Billy up and get the story straight from the source.
Do you want talk about your experience stopping by Trump Tower?
Yeah, sure. It was a crazy day yesterday. Basically, I was up in that neighborhood and I went by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral because my dad kept asking me to go light a candle for him. So I went there, and while I was up there, I was like, “Let me go get a tea” because I knew that they had a Starbucks there. And I forgot that Trump Tower was like locked down, like you couldn’t go in there. And I didn’t think about it and I just walked up to the guard and he was like, “Where are you going?” And I’m like, “…Starbucks…” and he’s like, “Oh, OK.” Then I walked in and I went in and ended up getting my drink and talking to the officials there and being like, “I do this skateboard thing, but what would be really cool is if Trump took the Central Park ice skating rink and turned it into a skatepark during the summers.”
I didn’t have like a political agenda. I wasn’t there to change the world, you know what I’m saying? I was there to get a hot tea and just relax. And so the people there were surprised I think, because they thought I would be some sort of activist or something, but I’m not really into politics. I think religion and politics are the two things that divide people as brothers.
When you were walking out, were you attacked by media? Did people scramble to ask you questions?
Yeah, it was pretty wild. I just told them what I could. It was like… when you see stuff online, say The Masons or something, there’s all these conspiracy theories about them, but then you actually meet one and you realize everything you heard online is the opposite of the reality. When you meet the people in the Trump camp, you realize that everything that’s been said or done is the opposite of the reality. If you look at America like New York City… Eli Gesner said to me once—the owner of Zoo York, the founder—he said “New York is what America is supposed to be, but the rest of the country hasn’t figured out how to be yet.”
They would love nothing more than to see the United States be a giant New York City. The things that we export that are so important is what’s cool. Like, “the coolness” of America. The artists, the musicians, the poets, the writers, the storytellers… it’s those things that really made people love America, that’s welcoming to everybody, but you gotta come through legally. It’s like, you can’t just jump fences all day to skate the ledges. Sometimes you gotta ask the school.
Last question, was Trump around there? You didn’t actually get to meet him, correct?
He was upstairs, I had to just talk to one of his administrative people. But maybe one day, we’ll see. I’m more concerned with what I can do to maybe connect them with the Harold Hunter Foundation.
My dream is to work in sports diplomacy and use what America does that’s cool, like skateboarding, art and music, to go over to the Middle East with Taji and skate with Arab kids. For me, I study the Quran and I live in an all Muslim neighborhood here in Kensington (Brooklyn) and it truly is a religion of peace, and it would be great to go over there and share what America has to offer and learn from them and work both ways.